It’s interesting to imagine where Lou and I are today, compared to September 2014. We’ve done our homework, stayed the course and did fairly well competing. In 2014, I struggled to imagine ‘The Elephant’ ever being capable of jumping or being elegant in Dressage. Horses his size have to work harder in being ballerinas.
Each time we saddled up, there was always a tad bit of promise and I could feel myself getting excited about the future. Louis is so quiet and laid back, that it finally gave me a chance to exhale and enjoy myself at competitions.
I’ve worked hard getting this square peg to fit into round holes, and Louis never ever stops trying to get it right. I do recall that steering was optional in the beginning and we had to work on it, as he took me down the side of an embankment one day at full speed. My husband was amused as he was taping it. . . I could have done without The Man From Snowy River impersonation.
So what’s this all about and where do we go from here? Well, I continue to do my homework and stay the course, but with the outlook of moving up to Training Level. Not a big deal for some, but it’s a milestone for Lou and I. There’s plenty to work on and I think a horse with his size struggles with fitness as they go up the levels. In many ways Louis is more Warmblood than Thoroughbred.
It’s also very important for me to keep his gentleness and quiet temperament. I’ve seen many professionals and amateurs ruin perfectly quiet and talented horses simply because they’re in a rush and think they have to have a horse running Preliminary by age 5. That’s complete and utter nonsense to me.
Louis is figuring this Eventing stuff out. He is becoming more keen at the idea of running cross country. I’ve changed pieces of tack as he’s become stronger . . .but not his bit. He goes in a full cheek snaffle and I’m keeping him in a snaffle. I’ve changed the reins though, using racing reins that are heavier and stronger and knotted at the bit. I’m also working closely with my show jumping friend Karen Kerby of Pleasanthill Farm who is quite frankly very ‘old school’ and is a master horseman and lover of Thoroughbreds. There are no short-cuts with Karen.
There’s a lot to look forward to for 2017.